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Volume 24 No. 155

People and Pop Culture

The NFL is conducting a search for a new CMO after a series of high-level organizational changes, outlined in a memo sent yesterday by NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL to teams and league officials. MARK WALLER is dropping his CMO title to fully focus on international, a role he previously had before taking over marketing. He will be promoted to Exec VP and report directly to Goodell. Waller joined the NFL in '06 to run international and assumed the CMO role in '09. ERIC GRUBMAN will focus on "critical league priorities, including stadium development, the return of a team presence to the Los Angeles area, the league’s strategic investment fund, and other key strategic initiatives," Goodell wrote. Grubman had been Exec VP/NFL Ventures & Business Operations. NFL Exec VP/Media and NFL Network President & COO BRIAN ROLAPP adds consumer products to his oversight, according to the memo. CHRIS HALPIN will be promoted to Senior VP and have responsibility for Consumer Products, the commissioner wrote. The new CMO will oversee events. Previously, events reported to Grubman, who will continue to oversee the area until a new CMO is found. The NFL last week promoted PETER O'REILLY to Senior VP/Events, replacing FRANK SUPOVITZ. The memo also noted JEFF MILLER, who runs security, is promoted to Senior VP (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).

CITY OF ANGELS: In L.A., Sam Farmer writes Grubman's new role "represents the first time in more than a decade that such a high-ranking league official has been assigned to the L.A. conundrum." Grubman yesterday confirmed his new responsibilities and said of whether the L.A. market warrants a more sustained focus by the NFL, "We think it does." Grubman: "The building blocks are there. There remain multiple sites available. So the focus is demanded" (L.A. TIMES, 8/27).

Centerplate yesterday issued a statement regarding CEO DES HAGUE being caught on camera repeatedly kicking a dog, saying it is "in the process of conducting an internal review," according to Allen Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The company said, "We are aware of the incident involving Centerplate CEO Des Hague and the attention surrounding it. The company has now gathered all of the current facts from local authorities. ... Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior." Centerplate has stadium concession contracts at "several stadiums in the U.S. and Canada," including the Timbers' Providence Park. Some Timbers fans have "posted Twitter statements saying they would boycott Centerplate at Providence Park" (, 8/26). ESPN's Keith Olbermann last night named Hague as one of his "world's worst" persons in sports, noting Hague admitted it was him on the video, but it was a friend's dog. Olbermann noted there is "reason to question Mr. Hague's insistence that he is taking 'full responsibility' for his actions and that he has 'personally apologized to the dog's owner.'" The Vancouver Sun reported that legal documents "filed by the local SPCA ... identifying the dog's owner as Desmond Hague." Olbermann: "Is this about a man abusing a dog or is it about one of the leading sports venue food vendors continuing to employ a CEO who abused the dog? Well that depends on whether or not they fire him. Your move" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 8/26).

NCAA COO JIM ISCH will retire early next year after transitioning away from the role this fall. He will serve in an advisory role to NCAA President MARK EMMERT until his retirement. The COO role will be reallocated to other senior staff. With Isch's departure, the NCAA will reorganize its senior staff, including the creation of a new Exec VP position to oversee all regulatory matters. An NCAA committee will work with an outside search firm to fill the new position, and Emmert hopes to name the new Exec VP this fall. Meanwhile, the NCAA also promoted KATHLEEN MCNEELY to CFO & Senior VP/Administration, BOB WILLIAMS to Senior VP/Communications, and CARI KLECKA to Chief of Staff (NCAA).

EXECS: F1 exec MARTIN WHITMARSH "has officially left his role as McLaren team principal after spending 24 years with the team." RON DENNIS "took control of the team" when he was appointed CEO in January (BBC, 8/26)....Infiniti named TOMMASO VOLPE F1 Global Director. He will be based at Infiniti’s Hong Kong HQ and report to VP/Global Marketing VINCENT GILLET (Infiniti)....The Mets have parted ways with Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Services LEIGH CASTERGINE, who had worked with the team since '10. She also has worked in ticketing and sales with the Bruins, Magic and Comcast-Spectacor. A national search is on for her replacement (Terry Lefton, Editor-At-Large)....The NHL Rangers named Eagles PR Manager RYAN NISSAN Dir of PR (THE DAILY)....The CFL Blue Bombers are parting ways with VP & COO JIM BELL, effective this Friday. His position will not be refilled (Blue Bombers)....The Big South Conference named Hurricanes Media Relations Coordinator BRIAN VERDI Assistant Dir of PR, replacing NIC BOWMAN, who joined the South Atlantic Conference last month as Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Communications (Big South)....Hamilton College named Cal Tech Assistant AD ANGEL MASON to the same position (Hamilton)....The Univ. of Richmond named Wake Forest Univ. Assistant AD/Finance ABBY HOUSER Assistant AD/Business Operations, and Univ. of Alabama Assistant AD/Marketing KRISTA HUFFMAN Assistant AD/Marketing & Fan Development (Richmond).

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In N.Y., Steve Eder profiles N.Y. attorney JEFFREY KESSLER and writes the NCAA has been dealt "serious blows" by the ED O'BANNON case and Northwestern's attempt to unionize, but Kessler may be its "most formidable opponent of all." Kessler in March "filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the major college athletics conferences that he says will take down the 'cartel' that controls college sports, and do away altogether with rules against paying college athletes." If the NCAA has "shown an inclination to tiptoe toward significant change, Kessler’s case takes a bazooka to the entire model of college athletics." He envisions an "open market that would allow colleges to compete for the services of top athletes by offering enhanced scholarships, better medical care -- or cash" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).

POPE FRANCIS is "backing an inter-religion soccer match" on Sept. 1 at Olympic Stadium in Rome that will "gather greats from around the globe and is aimed at promoting peace and raising money for at-risk kids." Argentina national team coach GERARDO MARTINO and EPL club Arsenal coach ARSENE WENGER will "put together teams featuring Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist players." Players will include LIONEL MESSIFILIPPO INZAGHI and SAMUEL ETO'O. Pope Francis "isn't expected to attend" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/27).

WAITING GAME: Almost eight months after winning the final BCS National Championship game, the Florida State football team "still hasn't met" with PRESIDENT OBAMA, and may become the "first nonrepeat champion since 1990 to not make its ceremonial trip." FSU Senior Associate AD/Internal Operations MONK BONASORTE said that the two sides "communicated over the summer but never finalized a plan." A White House official yesterday said that are "still working on a date" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/27). 

NAMES: NCAA President MARK EMMERT has been “deposed in a lawsuit” over the death of Frostburg State Univ. football player DEREK SHEELY, who collapsed during an August ’11 practice and “later died from a head injury.” His family last year filed a lawsuit against the NCAA (, 8/26)....ARNOLD PALMER is "back in his office this week near his Latrobe, Pennsylvania, home after having successful pacemaker implant surgery Aug. 18 in Pittsburgh.” The procedure “was done to correct an abnormal heartbeat” (, 8/26)....BENNY HOROWITZ, the drummer for rock band THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM, has written an "essay for Rolling Stone, describing his passion for Rutgers football and expressing optimism for the Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten season" (, 8/26)….The new season of CBS’ “SURVIVOR” will feature former MLBer JOHN ROCKER (, 8/26)….Saints QB DREW BREES and his wife, BRITTANY, “welcomed a new baby girl Monday night.” The couple “declined to share their daughter’s name” (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 8/27).